U.S. NAVY / USCG GOLD SYNTHETIC CHIN STRAP (1/2")

For decades, a golden chin strap on a Combination Cap of Navy personnel was a visible sign that the wearer was a Commissioned Officer—but not having one did not always mean that you weren’t an Officer. That’s because for some reason, the Navy Uniform regulations did not permit female Officers in the grades of O-5 (Commander) and above to wear the Female Combination Cover with a gold chin strap.

It is a design decision that seems almost baffling, considering that the gold chin strap is one of just two things that separate a Chief Petty Officer’s Combination Cap from the Cap worn by Ensigns, Second and First Lieutenants, and even Lieutenant Commanders. Indeed, if one were to divide female Officers into “gold chin strap” and “no chin strap” categories, common sense would seem to dictate the higher ranking officers would be honored with the golden accessory, since gold has been historically associated with excellence.

Thankfully, a November 2016 Summary of Changes included the elimination of the decree found in Article 4311.4a that must have stood out like a sore thumb for many readers, to wit:

“Insignia on combination caps consists of a cap device, chin strap, and retaining buttons. An embroidered visor/hat band is worn by officers of the rank of Commander and above. Female officers, O-5 and above, do not wear the gold chin strap.

Today, the paragraph ends at “Commander and above.” It’s an obviously welcome change, but it also comes late in the game: The mandatory date for female Officers to begin wearing either unisex Alternate Combination Covers or the Men’s Combination Covers looms less than two years away.
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